Incremental appropriations would address growth needs

Iowa State will seek an additional $9.7 million in state operational support next year from a legislature that went to work on Monday. The funding request includes an $8.2 million increase (4.5 percent) to the general university appropriation and 2.7 percent increases (totaling about $1.5 million) to university units or programs that receive their own state appropriation. Examples of the latter include the veterinary diagnostic lab, cooperative extension, Leopold Center and the livestock disease research program.

The high end of the projected inflation range in the Higher Education Price Index for fiscal year 2017 is 2.7 percent.

If funded, the increase would represent about a 4 percent increase over this year's total state operating support of $238.8 million. Fiscal year 2017 begins July 1.

Differential requests

For the second time, the three regent universities (Iowa State, University of Northern Iowa, University of Iowa) are requesting differential state support. An increase to Iowa State's general university appropriation would be used to maintain quality and address capacity needs associated with growing student enrollment. Examples include additional faculty and academic advising positions; investments in more student learning analytics; expanded opportunities for online learning; additional campus safety services; and more support for student experiences such as internships, study abroad, learning communities, undergraduate research and student organizations.

"As the state's land-grant university, we want to be accessible to students, but we can't let the quality of their experience suffer as more enroll at Iowa State," said chief of staff Miles Lackey, who oversees the budget development process.

Northern Iowa is requesting an 8.1 percent ($7.6 million) "equity adjustment" to its general university appropriation that recognizes its focus on educating undergraduate Iowa students and the limitations this puts on tuition revenue. Iowa is requesting a 1.9 percent increase ($4.5 million) to its general university appropriation for additional student support programs as its enrollment grows.

Salary support

As they do each year, the regent universities also asked to have their employees included in the appropriations bill that provides salary increase funding for employees in state agencies. The last time regent university employees were included in the salary bill was FY09.

State support for building projects

None of the regent universities are seeking funding for new building projects during this legislative session. Iowa State will receive more than $20 million in state support during FY17 for multiyear projects approved by previous legislatures. They are:

  • $19.5 million for the biosciences projects (new research/teaching facility at the Pammel Drive/Stange Road intersection and an east addition to Bessey Hall), the second of three years of state funding totaling $50 million
  • $1 million for the Student Innovation Center (to be built south of Sweeney Hall), the first of five years of state funding totaling $40 million

Budget development has begun

In the meantime, Iowa State's FY17 budget development process is underway. Last month, President Steven Leath outlined his budget planning priorities to the three senior vice presidents. They remain the four broad priorities Leath first presented during his fall 2012 installation:

  • Expand and enhance university programs and services to ensure that students have the best college experience possible, and ensure students are provided with the support they need to succeed, both inside and outside the classroom
  • Enhance the university profile by expanding our research enterprise and promoting our scholarly work
  • Promote economic development across the state and region
  • Ensure a welcoming, inclusive and safe campus and community

Leath noted then that the priorities would require repeated investments of money and effort.

"We have made great strides and established a lot of momentum in moving Iowa State to the next level," he wrote in a December memo to the three leaders. He asked them to again organize their unit budgets around the four priorities. Preliminary budgets are due to Leath on Feb. 1 and updated budgets on April 10.